The Recently Read posts are not typical book reviews. As a writer, I do not believe I should be reviewing the hard work of other writers. These posts are simply books I have recently read and enjoyed and will share with you. They will not always be crime books as I am trying to widen my reading selection. I hope you enjoy some of these with me.
The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist
One day in early spring, Dorrit Weger is checked into the Second Reserve Bank Unit for biological material. She is promised a nicely furnished apartment inside the Unit, where she will make new friends, enjoy the state of the art recreation facilities, and live the few remaining days of her life in comfort with people who are just like her. Here, women over the age of fifty and men over sixty–single, childless, and without jobs in progressive industries–are sequestered for their final few years; they are considered outsiders. In the Unit they are expected to contribute themselves for drug and psychological testing, and ultimately donate their organs, little by little, until the final donation. Despite the ruthless nature of this practice, the ethos of this near-future society and the Unit is to take care of others, and Dorrit finds herself living under very pleasant conditions: well-housed, well-fed, and well-attended. She is resigned to her fate and discovers her days there to be rather consoling and peaceful. But when she meets a man inside the Unit and falls in love, the extraordinary becomes a reality and life suddenly turns unbearable. Dorrit is faced with compliance or escape, and…well, then what?
THE UNIT is an exploration of a society in the throes of an experiment, in which the “dispensable” ones are convinced under gentle coercion of the importance of sacrificing for the “necessary” ones. Ninni Holmqvist has created a debut novel of humor, sorrow, and rage about love, the close bonds of friendship, and about a cynical, utilitarian way of thinking disguised as care.
This book was Broadway book club’s June choice. It’s not something that I would have normally picked up, which is one of the reasons I joined the book club in the first place. And boy, am I glad I picked this book up. It absolutely blew me away.
The concept of the book, where if you are childless and not contributing to society in a way that is seen as important, you are classed as dispensable and society accepts this, is thought-provoking and has depth. It’s set in the near future and the process has been passed through some sort of parliamentary voting system. It’s stunningly well told in a simple and straightforward way, conveying the sense of how normal this situation is. The undercurrent of fear is woven in with the calm and natural friendships that arise within a group of people who are not at all dissimilar.
I think the blurb makes the book feel more racy and dramatic than it actually felt reading it. The reality of reading gave me a sense of calm and concerning unease at the same time. It’s smoothly and expertly told and I absolutely loved it. It’s definitely a book that will stay with me and a book well worth reading. In fact, I bought this book as an ebook, but I may well go out and buy a hard copy to keep. I would recommend this to anyone.